USG Senate Candidate Profiles

first_imgMichael Tseng/Daily Trojan Valerie Taranto/Daily Trojan “It’s always kind of felt that Viterbi is kind of left out from student government,” Pack said. “A lot of decision-making seems to be focused more on Marshall, because they’re very active, and political science majors in Dornsife.” Christopher Pack, a junior majoring in computer engineering and computer science, noticed a lack of basic necessities at the Viterbi School of Engineering, from water fountains to adequate mental health services. Pack said he wants to improve these aspects of daily life at USC. Savage, a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law, is an incumbent who hopes to become a leader for incoming senators. One of his goals is to remove the meal plan requirement for students living in USC-owned apartments. Annalise Pasztor/Daily Trojan Ritch, a sophomore majoring in sociology and law, history and culture, has served as Vice President of Religious and Spiritual Life at USC Hillel and co-president of Trojans for Israel. Garcia, a sophomore majoring in business administration, is a resident assistant at New North Residential College. Valerie Taranto/Daily Trojan Photo courtesy of Jacob Lind and Jacob Schwessinger Angela Chuang & Emily Johnson Julian Kuffour, Ben Rosenthal and Hailey Robertson all have experience with Undergraduate Student Government’s legislative process. But their earliest training occurred on the USC debate team, a training ground of sorts for the aspiring USG senators.  Michael Tseng/Daily Trojan The candidates advocate for transparency in USG, student representation on the Board of Trustees, town hall meetings for students and administration, a mentorship program for all students and expanded transportation on campus.  Michael Tseng/Daily Trojan Quinn Cunniff Garland’s work as a USG senate aide and Khoshniyati’s experience as a director of programming for the Residential Housing Association have taught them skills they believe will translate to the Senate. Garland and Khoshniyati are also campaigning for sustainability on campus and bettering student life, from expanding the number of water fountains to extending gym and library hours for students.  Rose Ritch and Omar Garcia are running for USG Senate to change campus culture through inclusion initiatives and call for bureaucratic transparency. Ritch and Garcia hope to instill change on campus and ensure that minority groups’ voices are heard. “I wanted to be that health and wellness advocate for students because we go to such an amazing university,” said Khoshniyati, who is majoring in human biology. “[We are] very prestigious, but we need the resources to match the title.”  “I started going to senate meetings over the last couple of years pretty regularly and speaking my mind during open forum,” Lind said. “I would really love the opportunity to be on the other side of that senate room, hopefully to set the agenda.” The three candidates aim to push for more student representation at the administrative level, improve mental health services and make resources available for sexual assault survivors. Pack also wants to convince the school administration to give students the whole week of Thanksgiving off. Cunniff also believes USG is too centralized, since members leave major decisions to the Senate and Executive Branch. Instead, he wants to make the legislation process more “objective and streamlined.”  Much of Ritch and Garcia’s platform focuses on increasing student access to mental health services.  Laura Pearson Shiff’s platform is heavily focused on improving access to mental health resources by collaborating with groups across campus.  Jacob Lind & Jacob Schwessinger Laura Pearson’s experience as a transfer student drove her to run for a seat on USG Senate, where she plans to improve campus sustainability efforts and help increase transfer-student engagement.  Cunniff, a sophomore majoring in accounting, seeks to make USG more profit-driven, starting with reforming its $2.3 million yearly budget and making all business transactions and budget usage public. Andrew Fowler, Randi Anderson and Sen. Gabriel Savage are running for Senate as a slate.  “We want to work with the Engemann [Student Health Center] to try to improve their mental health care,” Garcia said. “We want to make sure to add more therapists, add more sessions for them.” Fowler, a freshman majoring in biophysics, previously served as Savage’s senate aide. In that role, Fowler examined senate legislation and was inspired to take part in the legislative process as a result.  “I want the entire campus to have a lot more accountability, especially to students,” Pack said.  “If you look at the Sustainability 2020 plan, there were a lot of good goals set by the University to achieve by 2020, but they’re kind of vague,” Pearson said. Fowler also hopes to implement a policy that will have EMTs stationed on the Row during weekends. Gabriel Savage & Andrew Fowler & Randi Anderson “Being able to diversify what you’re learning and what you’re taking in and also the people that you meet would help you feel included,” Anderson said.  Benjamin Shiff Michael Tseng/Daily Trojan For sophomores Haley Garland and Sara Khoshniyati, improving student healthcare is the most pressing issue USG senators face.  Michael Tseng/Daily Trojan Pack’s platform focuses on improving safety for students by increasing transparency in the University administration.   Both students hope to provide more safe spaces for sexual assault victims, counseling services at Engemann and increased online resources and information. Pearson, a sophomore majoring in philosophy and cognitive science, is also interested in politics. She wants to improve the University’s sustainability plan by adding concrete numerical goals and values for green efforts. Chuang, a sophomore majoring in political science who transferred from George Washington University, said she wants to improve support for transfer students at USC, including expanding orientation to more than one day.  Political activism is a primary driver of Jacob Lind and Jacob Schwessinger’s senatorial campaign. If elected, the two candidates hope to foster a more inclusive living environment on campus for marginalized communities. Ling Luo/Daily Trojan Having lived in Texas, Australia, Michigan and now Los Angeles, Cunniff understands the importance of having a diverse population on campus and hopes that he can represent the student body. Pearson aims to increase transfer student involvement, particularly during Welcome Week, which she said is mostly geared toward first-year students. She is also campaigning for more housing accommodations for transfer students. “Finding housing is really difficult when you’re a transfer student just because the acceptance starts in May, so by then [USC] Village is completely full, CarGar is full,” Pearson said. As a low-income student, Pearson understands the need for more affordable programs and hopes to create a fund for students looking to join organizations with costly dues. She also aims to increase the number of 24-hour study lounges or extend operating hours for campus libraries. Photo courtesy of Angela Chuang  and Emily Johnson Anderson, a sophomore majoring in choral music, wants to give students control over organization committees, extend communication between spring admits and school coordinators and implement a four-unit free audit system, which would give students the opportunity to take classes outside their major.  Quinn Cunniff’s straightforward mannerisms go hand in hand with his businesslike mindset.  Johnson described her first semester at USC as “stressful,” and hopes a summer bridge program would allow new students to experience college life before classes officially begin. “The USC experience is very different for high-income kids, for men, for white people,” Schwessinger said. “It’s a very different experience for people who are not those social categories.” Christopher Pack Robertson, a sophomore majoring in global health, is currently the director of accessibility and affairs within USG’s advocacy branch, while Kuffour, a freshman majoring in pharmacology and drug development, is her delegate. He helps her brainstorm, research and present initiatives for accessibility. Rosenthal is the assistant director of USG’s Professional and Academic Fund.  He said he plans to train the leaders of student organizations, particularly in the Greek community, to talk to their members about mental health and sexual assault prevention. Lind is a junior majoring in English literature and history, while Schwessinger is a junior majoring in political science and philosophy. Both students have been active on campus through Model United Nations and Trojans Advocates for Political Progress, which Lind co-founded. “I see myself as someone who’s very good at listening to the other side,” Ritch said.  “We all have the skills of researching policy proposals, so we know how to write resolutions,” said Rosenthal, a sophomore majoring in business administration.  As previous members of USG, Emily Donahue and Christopher McMorran are running for senate to expand their impact.  Pack said he plans on making changes to the Engemann Student Health Center by adding a system where students can report professional misconduct. Shiff said he realizes that having supportive and safe clubs is an important part of the college experience.  “I think the most effective way to make the lesson about Title IX and sexual consent on campus accessible to people is by … making sure that our 1,000 student leaders are aware of all the rules,” Shiff said. She is keen to push forward mentorship programs and transparent resources for transfer students. “[We want to work on] not only expanding our resources but also making people aware of the resources that we currently have,” said Garland, who is majoring in political science. Johnson, a freshman majoring in business administration and French, said she wants to represent lower-income and first-generation students like herself, who may have difficulty adjusting to college life.  During their time in USG, the duo has created an alumni and upperclassmen mentorship program, where students can receive support from experienced undergraduates and USC alumni on their academics and career prospects. In addition, they are currently negotiating a transfer forgiveness policy, giving incoming transfer students the chance to repeat courses where they received a grade of D+ or lower to remove the grade from their records. Rose Ritch & Omar Garcia “I really want to use [school] organizations and bolster [comfortability],” Shiff said. “I want to use those organizations to impact this greater positive change at USC because [they] had such a positive change on my USC experience.” Emily Donahue & Christopher McMorran Angela Chuang and Emily Johnson first met as senate aides but quickly bonded over a mutual desire for a more unified student body. Now, they aim to promote initiatives on health and wellness, student assistance and academic resources at USC. Cunniff also wants to improve the relationship between USG and “ostracized” populations, including transfer students and members of Greek organizations, by having USG work more closely with the Interfraternity Council. Ben Rosenthal & Hailey Robertson & Julian Kuffour Lind and Schwessinger want to improve trust between students and DPS, and reinstate leadership stipends — financial compensation for leaders in student organizations. “I think you have to treat [USG] like a business,” Cunniff said. “You try to get as much bang for your buck … as possible.” “I feel it’s important that transfers have a voice in Senate next year,” Chuang said. “And I want to be able to [get] that right for them.” Haley Garland & Sara Khoshniyati Participating in Greek life and social events at USC motivated Benjamin Shiff, a sophomore majoring in communication and cinema and media studies, to run for USG Senate this year.  McMorran, a sophomore majoring in film and television production, is the director of first-year affairs for USG. Donahue, a sophomore majoring in pharmacology and drug development, currently serves as USG’s parliamentarian, which she says has made her familiar with the legislative process.last_img

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